Marine APCs: Peregrinations of the EFV to ACV to MPC to ACV 1.1
February 22/17: The Amphibious Combat Vehicle 1.1 by Science Applications International Corporation and BAE Systems for the USMC has been unveiled for the first time . Developed to replace an aging fleet of amphibious assault vehicles, the Marines will receive a total of 16 vehicles with deliveries to commence in March. The earlier stages of the ACV 1.1 production effort were stalled by a contract protest by General Dynamics after the company was defeated in the Marine Corps’ bidding process.
The US Marine Corps’ AAVP7 Amtracs have been their primary ship to shore amphibious armored personnel carrier for a long time; the AAV7A1 was initially fielded in 1972, and underwent a major service life extension program and product improvement program from 1983-1993. The Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle was the USMC’s plan to replace the aging AMTRACS (lit. AMphibious TRACtorS), which saw extensive service deep inland during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The personnel version of the new EFVs would carry a crew of 3, plus a reinforced rifle squad of 17 combat-loaded Marines. A high-tech weapons station would provide firepower, via a stabilized ATK 30mm MK 44 Bushmaster cannon with advanced sights to replace the AAV’s unstabilized .50 caliber machine gun. A command variant would carry an array of communications and computer systems and staff personnel. The EFV remained the U.S. Marine Corps’ top land acquisition priority, even as its price tag and development issues cut its buy sharply. Push finally came to shove in 2010, however, as the USMC realized that it simply couldn’t afford the vehicle, or its performance.
That begat a new program called the Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV), designed to be a more realistic version of the EFV. A Marines version designed for only light water use was called the MPC, which was iced in June 2013. That program was resurrected under increased capabilities pressures as the APC 1.1, which had its coming out party during an industry day in July 2014. A draft RFP was released in November, with hopes that a final RFP would be issued in spring 2015.
$105.7 million was requested for ACV 1.1 research, testing and evaluation.
The APC 1.1 has been examined by the Congressional Research Service, producing this report, which – in a nutshell – says that the program has a few issues, the primary one being the strategic lack of “connectors” allowing equipment onshore. Current options (LCAC, JHSV and LCU 1600) are relatively unprotected.
Amtracs Replacement, Take 1: The EFV
Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle: Capabilities & CONOPS
The EFV was expected to come in 2 main variants: EFV-P infantry fighting vehicles, and EFV-C command vehicles. Even after the program’s demise, its characteristics and associated Concept of Operations remain relevant. They were developed in response to what the Marines think they need, and early 2011 indications suggest that the service’s view hasn’t changed all that much.
The EFV-P personnel carriers have a stabilized turret with advanced TV, laser and thermal imaging optics for accurate fire under all conditions out to 2 km (1.2 miles). Primary firepower is provided by an ATK 30mm MK 44 Bushmaster cannon and 7.62mm coaxial machine gun, with a maximum elevation of 45 degrees (high elevation is useful in urban warfare) and maximum depression of -10 degrees (useful for enfilade fire). The Bushmaster cannon will use HEIT(High-Explosive Incendiary Tracer) rounds with a super-fast fuse for maximum shrapnel, and MPLD (Multi-Purpose Low Drag) tungsten-tipped rounds against harder targets. The MPLDs offer an advantage over current 25mm rounds because they penetrate before exploding, instead of just pock-marking the walls of fortified bunkers and buildings.
Rounds are selectable on the fly, and Col. Brogan of the EFV program office has said that the cannon would defeat any vehicle short of a main battle tank up to 2 km away. The EFV program has also completed foreign comparative testing for programmable fuse rounds similar to those slated for the XM307 machine gun, and those rounds were found to be more lethal. The goal was to qualify them as an additional standard ammunition choice.
The current AAV7 Amtracs, in contrast, offer only low-light vision optics, in a non-stabilized manned turret, firing a .50 caliber machine gun and a 40mm GMG grenade launcher. Some Amtracs have added thermal sights, but other vehicles are sporting far more advanced manned turrets – and these days, unmanned RWS systems as well.
Additional firepower comes from the EFV’s onboard Marines, which is meant to include a full reinforced Marine rifle squad of 17 (13 Marines + 4 additional or specialists, including Javelin anti-tank teams) in addition to the vehicle’s crew of 3. The AAV7 listed a capacity of 22 and a crew of 3, but in practice its limit was also a combat-loaded reinforced rifle squad. The AAV7’s original design parameters even included an M151 Jeep or trailer, or 2 supply pallets from an LKA ship, as holdovers from its role as a mere LVT (Landing Vehicle, Tracked) before USMC doctrine began emphasizing its role as an armored personnel carrier. The EFV dispenses with that.
A command EFV-C variant carries an array of communications and computer systems and staff personnel. Indeed, all EFVs were slated to carry an array of communications equipment and electronics including GPS/INS navigation systems and C2PC (Command and Control, Personal Computer). C2PC is similar to the Army’s “Blue Force Tracker,” showing an overlay of friendly units and detected enemies on a common map. The two systems aren’t interoperable yet, though things are moving that way. C2PC is used in the US Army at brigade level and information can be shared through that command structure.
Electronics and salt water don’t exactly mix, however, so the EFV program has had to take precautions. All electronics must be fully sealed, all cables have shielding & protection, and design efforts were made to remove voids and enclosures where salt might become trapped. On the outside, a series of enviro-friendly coatings were used that avoided the use of carcinogenic hexavalent chrome, and areas where dissimilar metals are mated need barriers to prevent electricity-producing galvanic reactions. If that sounds more complex and exensive than standard IFVs, well, it is.
Beyond the difference in these variants, however, all EFVs had broad similarities in a number of areas.
The EFV was designed to have positive buoyancy, and the program office has confirmed that the vehicle will float when at rest. Waterjet propulsion gives an amphibious speed of more than 20 knots – 3 times that of the AAV7. An underwater explosion survivability requirement is incorporated, and EFVs are also meant to move at high speed up to Sea State 3, and transition/low speed up to Sea State 5 (up to 8 ft. waves). This sea state capability would match the older AAV7s, and this level of unassisted armored landing capability in high sea states is reportedly unique to the AAV7 among present-day vehicles.
Those EFV water speed and sea state requirements have driven a number of design decisions, however, raising the vehicles’ cost and increasing its vulnerabilities. For instance, the need for hydroplaning at speed forces a flat bottom, which limits the hull’s potential protection against IEDs and other land mines. It also leads to an engine bigger than a 70-ton M1 tank’s, as well as very high vibration levels in transit that aren’t very friendly to onboard equipment.
Once on land, keeping up with the USMC’s M1 Abrams tanks imposes land speed requirements that must also be addressed. EFV top speed after landing will be about 45 miles per hour, which is comparable to the land speed of a modernized AAV7 RAM/RS, and enables the vehicles to keep up with a USMC’s M1 Abrams tank’s cruising speed. An engine almost twice as powerful as the ones in the 70-ton M1 tanks they’ll be accompanying certainly helps. Maintenance and readiness are meant to be similar to vehicles like the M1 Abrams and M2 Bradley, though they never even got close to that goal before the program was terminated.
On the protection front, the EFV has done what it could within its specifications, but it will not reach the level of the US Army’s Bradley or similar IFVs.
Measures have been taken to make EFV detection harder, including moving thermal giveaways to the rear, reducing telltale dust via side skirts, etc. NBC (nuclear, biological, chemical) protection is also included. For direct protection when maneuver or concealment become impossible, its LIBA SURMAX silicon ceramic composite armor is expected to provide protection from 14.5mm rounds and 155mm shell fragments. The previous AAV7’s base was 12.7mm/.50 cal weapons and 105mm fragments, though add-on armor could raise that to the same 14.5/155mm levels. The LIBA SURMAX armor adds high resilience under multiple hits from armor piercing projectiles, easy field repair, and lightness to the protection equation.
Having met that “same as” standard, the EFV program does not officially plan to include armor-up kits of its own. Reactive armor like that fitted to M2/M3 Bradleys, M113s, etc. for defense against higher-caliber autocannon and/or RPG rockets was not initially planned for the EFV; the Marines believed the its weight and hydrodynamic issues would destroy the EFV’s amphibious capabilities, and had no initial plans for “add-on ashore” kits. Nor was the “cage” slat armor fitted to Army Strykers etc. under consideration as RPG protection, for the same reasons. Some minor casualty reduction would have been provided by improved fire suppression, and by spall linings that narrow the ‘casualty cone’ of a rocket’s blast fragments in the hull from the 90-110 degree spray of the AAV7 Amtracs, to 10 degrees or so.
In response to pressure from Congress, ideas have now been floated re: removable applique armor, but no official decision was taken.
Over the longer term, the EFV had reserved computing power, a card slot, and memory to integrate “active protection systems” like the RAFAEL/General Dynamics “Trophy” being fielded in Israel, or the Raytheon APS system contracted before the Army’s FCS ground vehicle family was canceled. The EFV program office never formally evaluated any of these systems, however, as no funding or requirements were provided to do it.
EFV protection varies against the IED land mines that have already destroyed several Amtracs in Iraq. The EFV’s flat bottom remains a hazard when facing mines. Detonations underneath will remain a challenge, however, because the need for hydrodynamic lift forces a flat bottom design – and the same design that catches the full force of the water to provide lift, will also catch the full force of a mine blast. Given the amphibious distance and speed requirements, however, the EFV program office noted that blast-deflecting V-hulls were not an option. Shock-absorbing seats that reduce spinal injuries were the best they could do, given the specifications.
On the other hand, its low side skirts offer very better protection from side blasts than current Amtracs, especially since the SURMAX armor is good at absorbing “dynamic deflection.” The front is helped by the presence of the extensible plate for water travel, while the back features armor levels comparable to the sides.
This last vulnerability, to the #1 in-theater killer from America’s last 2 major wars, attracted sharp political scrutiny, and was a factor in pressure to cancel the program.
Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle: The Case in Favor
Given these uncertainties, the increasing use of AAV7 Amtracs as armored personnel carriers deep inland, and the trends toward urban warfare and IED threats, the EFV has attracted some criticism. We begin with the USMC’s case for the EFV – and since the follow-on ACV seems to share similar underlying requirements, possibly the future ACV as well.
The biggest underlying requirement concerns the Navy, not the Marines. The Marines contend that advances in anti-ship missiles and surveillance, and the spiraling cost of US Navy’s designs for amphibious ships, made protecting those ships via long-distance launch a critical requirement. Rather than buying extra hovercraft or LCUs, the Navy and Marines wanted these waterborne abilities to be part of the vehicles themselves, so that amphibious assaults could introduce armor support very quickly. The EFV’s high-speed, long-distance swim capabilities, which have so influenced its design and execution, were seen as the best option for meeting that goal, while maximizing tactical flexibility in both Small Wars and high-intensity conflicts.
That speed has 2 major tactical rationales. One is protection. The other is flexibility. Col. Brogan of the EFV Program Office noted in our June 2006 interview that the “over the horizon” launch capability (about 25 miles out to sea) requirement of 25-mile swim capability in an hour. requirement was handed down in order to give friendly forces 2 opportunities to take down enemy missiles before they could hit the Navy’s amphibious ships, assuming AEGIS-equipped ships on station plus Cooperative Engagement Capability on the Navy’s amphibious assault vessels.
To illustrate the implications of flexibility, imagine a release point 15 miles offshore. At 25 mph swim speed, Pythagoras tells us that a 40 mile long stretch of coastline is at risk within an hour, complicating the defender’s options. The EFV’s speed, shared software and communications means that the vehicles can modify and share plans while still in the water; instead of having to look for a 1 km wide beach where they can all land in a wave, they can come ashore in dispersed fashion to re-form nearby, or exit in column through places as narrow as a boat ramp. Faced with this array of options, the defending commander must either disperse and hence weaken his defenses, try to anticipate the vehicles’ exact moves and risk being wrong, or accept the initial landing and plan to deal with the beach-head via counterattack.
Once on land, keeping up with the USMC’s M1 Abrams tanks in particular impose land speed requirements that must be addressed, even as the situations the US Marines face sometimes require far more protection than lighter vehicles like the BvS-10 can provide. The U.S. Marines must be able to operate in a wide variety of situations and environments, contend the EFV’s advocates, and their breadth of amphibious capabilities define them. With the EFV, the USMC argues, firepower, detection and flexibility are much improved over the AAV7, while amphibious and tracked mobility are maintained or improved. This combination makes the EFV an important tool that’s required in order to maintain the Corps’ full capability set.
The EFV’s amphibious capability remains tactically useful inland, however, reducing dependence on destroyable and easily-targeted bridges. As long as the opposite bank has a shallow enough slope for the EFVs to climb out within a few miles, EFVs can swim up rivers and cross water obstacles. Of course, accompanying USMC M1 Abrams tanks would not have this option. A Marine commander with a mixed vehicle set could split his forces, possibly assigning Javelin infantry teams, amphibious LAV-ATs with TOWs, Cobra helicopters, etc. for anti-tank punch. He could also use the EFVs in security operations as a bridgehead and guard force, until engineers could bring the tanks across.
Col. Brogan added that the USMC could always elect to put fewer than 17 Marines in an EFV depending on the mission, and noted that other vehicles in inventory from armored HMMWV jeeps and MTVR trucks, to LAV-25 wheeled APCs, to V-hulled RG-31 and Cougar vehicles, are available for commanders where lack of numbers or niche capabilities make the EFV an inferior mission choice.
Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle: The Case Against
Critics note the EFV’s number of Marines carried and cost, contending that the USMC is simply building a very expensive, casualty-maximizing IED land mine/RPG trap, whose required protection levels against mines and incoming fire were sacrificed to the requirement for improved water speed. Despite this water speed, they won’t be useful as fire support in the littorals, either, leaving that mission largely unaddressed. EFVs will be tied to heavier and less flexible forces because they cannot handle enemy tanks or IEDs independently, and they will be too vulnerable in the urban warfare scenarios that will be common features of future conflicts.
Options to improve these capabilities, they say, will only turn a very expensive system that has demonstrated serious reliability problems, into an extremely expensive system that is even less reliable, and requires more support than before.
Other Marine forces like the British and Dutch, they note, are relying instead on smaller amphibious vehicles like the BvS-10 Viking. These vehicles are also fully amphibious, but trade less water speed and slightly less protection for more vehicles per dollar, fewer soldiers per vehicle to minimize casualties, and ground footprints that can cross all terrains and won’t set off pressure mines. When trying to keep the Navy ships safe, they argue, why not opt for systems like these that offer heliborne air mobility, giving the Marines even greater operational speed and over-the-horizon reach, and offering naval defenses even more shots at enemy missiles? Systems like the BvS10 would be equally useful in “small wars,” where their heliborne insertion and all-terrain capabilities would give the Marines new options against lightly-armed but very mobile enemies.
Alternatively, the Marines could buy a more conventional IFV with some amphibious capabilities, and depend on extra hovercraft, vessels like the proposed and landing ships to get them ashore. South Korea produced the K-21 KNIFV for about $3.5 million each, with better firepower and protection options than the EFV, at a cost of carrying only 9 crew and reducing water speed to 4-5 mph in low sea states.
Once built, those extra hovercraft and LCUs could even find new roles in the world’s littoral regions. Armed with rockets, bolt-on RWS turrets, or even rolled-on armored vehicles, they would have new life as impromptu littoral and riverine patrol craft, policing terrain that the US military sees as high threat while keeping larger ships out of the picture. LCT-As were used this way in World War 2 landings, and LCU/LCMs with low gunwales have mounted M48A3, M67A2, and M60A1 tanks in Vietnam and Grenada.
These options, say the critics, plus other vehicles in the Marines’ current force mix, are more likely to be appropriate in more of the situations that US Marines are likely to face going forward. They’re also far easier to buy in numbers when the EFV isn’t sucking the budgetary oxygen out of the room, a situation that tends to turn arguments that could be made as “both/and” into something of an “either/or” rhetorical proposition.
The arguments continue; indeed, they are likely to gain in intensity and strength as the USMC works to define the EFV’s successor.
Amtracs Replacement, Take 2: After the EFV
The USMC’s EFV replacement strategy rests on 3 pillars. DARPA may have added a 4th option, but like all DARPA projects, it will have to overcome significant technical hurdles in order to become even a potential production program.
Replace Me: ACV Amphibious Combat Vehicle
The USMC hopes it can keep its Amphibious Combat Vehicle to $10-12 million per vehicle, compared to $16.8 million for the EFV. Even so, that’s still far above other Marines forces around the world. The expected schedule was an ACV technical demonstration vehicle by the end of FY 2012, and a fully operational demonstration vehicle done by the end of 2013 or 2014. Re-use of some EFV systems might help meet those deadlines, but reliability issues make that a riskier strategy than it might otherwise be. A competition between contractors will give several of them 3-4 years to build their offerings, followed by a chosen ACV around 2020.
The USMC acknowledges that their desired schedule is aggressive, which often creates testing surprises, delays, and rising costs. Their acquisition strategy isn’t set in stone, but they seem to be leaning on multi-way competition and a drive-off to offset those risks, even as that format also complies with recent defense acquisition reform directives. They’d better hope it works, because $10 million was touted for the EFV part-way through the program – and another episode of ballooning costs and delays will cripple the Marines for a generation. Even if it does work, and costs are within budget, a $10-12 million per vehicle program would be a prime target for cuts if rising interest rates cause the USA to hit a fiscal wall.
More ominously, Kurt Koch, the combat vehicle capabilities integration officer for Fires and Maneuvers Integration Division, says “the ACV will be operationally mobile in the water, capable of ship-to-objective maneuver from over the horizon.” That’s the same requirement that doomed the EFV to be a super-expensive water taxi, that wouldn’t protect its crew against cannon fire, rockets, or the #1 killer in recent wars: land mine attacks.
Extend Me: the AAV7 SLEP
Until the ACV is ready, the Amtracs will soldier on. The AAV Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) aims to add better protection, a modern power-train, and higher capacity suspension components. Another gap in the current force is the current turret, which is unstabilized, and can’t be fired accurately on the move. Costs and scope are still under evaluation, but the goal is to run the AAV7 SLEP program from 2012-2021.
With the ACV not even slated to begin production until 2020, and even the MPC not slated to make a difference until 2018-2020, the AAV7 SLEP becomes critical to the corps. During the next decade, any serious problems in the Amtracs fleet could leave the US Marines in a difficult position indeed.
If AAV7 Amtracs had to be built new, the last AAV7 Amtracs were produced for Brazil in the 1990s. The cost range in those-year dollars was $2.2 – 2.5 million per vehicle. Without factoring in production restart costs (or any capability upgrades for the modern battlefield), that figure translates into about $3.5 million per vehicle in today’s dollars.
Complement Me: The MPC Marine Personnel Carrier
The wheeled Marine Personnel Carrier program is really a replacement for the LAV fleet, and has always been seen as a separate budgeted item. The EFV program’s failure doesn’t change that, but it does mean that MPCs may end up performing some EFV roles. They may end up in a bigger substitution role if the ACV also sinks, or the USA’s slow-motion fiscal wreck starts hitting the interest rate wall, and drastic cuts follow. If so, tactical changes will follow, because MPCs won’t be designed to come ashore through surf, even in low-medium sea states.
MPCs are expected to cost up to $4.5 million each, with a buy decision in 2013 and Initial Operational Capability in 2018. Declared MPC competitors already include BAE Systems/ Iveco with their SUPERAV), and Lockheed Martin/Patria with their Patria AMV. The current incumbent, General Dynamics, won’t be sitting out. They’re expected t bid their Piranha-III, or similar vehicles.
Test Me: DARPA’s FANG
DARPA’s FANG. The Fast, Adaptable, Next-Generation ground vehicle projects aims to develop a new heavy, amphibious infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) “with functional requirements intended to mirror the Marine Corps’ Amphibious Combat Vehicle.”
That’s unusual. The approach is even more interesting, and unusual: “The contractor will stage a series of FANG challenges, prize-based design competitions for progressively more complex vehicle subsystems, culminating in the design of a full IFV.” DARPA has had good luck with competitions before, but they generally involve more than 1 vendor.
EFV: Contracts & Key Events
Unless otherwise indicated, all EFV program contracts are issued by US Marine Corps Systems Command in Quantico, VA to General Dynamics Amphibious Systems (GDAMS) in Woodbridge, VA.
FY 2015 – 2017
February 22/17: The Amphibious Combat Vehicle 1.1 by Science Applications International Corporation and BAE Systems for the USMC has been unveiled for the first time. Developed to replace an aging fleet of amphibious assault vehicles, the Marines will receive a total of 16 vehicles with deliveries to commence in March. The earlier stages of the ACV 1.1 production effort were stalled by a contract protest by General Dynamics after the company was defeated in the Marine Corps’ bidding process.
July 27/15: The Marine Corps is reportedly scheduled to downselect two designs for its Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV) program in late 2015, with five designs currently on offer. The requirement calls for a 8×8 armored vehicle capable of transiting over open water as well as operate ashore. The five designs have been undergoing testing, with the USMC planning to progress the two downselected bids through a development phase.
“Following the Defense Department’s cancellation of the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle Program, the Marine Corps began reviewing the future use of all EFV-associated equipment procured as part of that program. The JSMC was set to build the fighting vehicle, but now is using the hull machining equipment on other combat vehicles [DID: incl. Israeli Namer heavy APCs].”
June 19/12: Plan E – I’m the FANG. Ricardo, Inc. in Belleville, MI received a $9.8 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract. This 12-month base period may be followed by 2 successive 12-month options, which could increase its value to $27.6 million. It will fund a research and development effort entitled “FANG (Fast, Adaptable, Next-Generation) Ground Vehicle,” which aims to develop a new heavy, amphibious infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) “with functional requirements intended to mirror the Marine Corps’ Amphibious Combat Vehicle.”
That’s unusual. The approach is even more interesting, and unusual: “The contractor will stage a series of FANG challenges, prize-based design competitions for progressively more complex vehicle subsystems, culminating in the design of a full IFV.” DARPA has had good luck with competitions before, but they generally involve more than 1 vendor.
Work will be performed in Belleville, MI (70.75%); Nashville, TN (13.38%); Atlanta, GA (9.26%); Brighton, MI (3.16%); San Antonio, TX (1.24%); and Troy, MI (2.21%). Work can run to June 17/15, with all options exercised. The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency manages the contract (HR0011-12-C-0074).
EFV canceled. What now?
June 10/11: Aviation Week reports that the USMC is looking to cut its analysis of alternatives (AOA) for the EFV replacement from 18 months to 9, or even 6 months. Areas of interest include “habitability” inside the vehicle, added features like an artificial horizon, and reaching out to shipbuilders for a better hull design.
The good news is that the USMC is reaching to a logical and related industry for help. The bad news is that an appetite for more and more based on notional requirements, rather than cost-driven limits that may force rethinks of what one can expect, is what sank EFV in the first place. Further bad news? The USMC say they need 38 amphibious ships, and might make do with 33, but will get 29. That will push them toward a long-swimming IFV design, as a way of compensating at sea. The question is whether that will create fatal vulnerabilities on land, or whether the shipbuilding sector can offer an EFV idea that squares the circle.
March 22/11: Plans B, C & D. The USMC outlines the 3 different vehicle programs that will replace the responsibilities the EFV would have held: AAV7 life extension from 2012-2021, wheeled Marine Personnel Carrier in service from 2018, and an Amphibious Combat Vehicle EFV replacement entering production by 2020. See above for more details.
Jan 12/10: Inside Defense reports that the US Marine Corps will pursue 3 contracts, in the wake of the EFV’s cancellation.
The first, required response involves life extension for the existing AAVP7 Amtracs fleet. The 2nd response will be to accelerate the LAV-II replacement Marine Personnel Carrier (MPC) program. Like its predecessor, MPC is required to have some amphibious capability, albeit less than the Amtracs. The 3rd response is the direct EFV replacment, currently known as the New Amphibious Vehicle (NAV) program.
Jan 6/11: Canceled. As part of a plan detailing $150 billion in service cuts and cost savings over the next 5 years, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announces the cancellation of the USMC’s Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV):
“This program is of great interest to the Marine community so I would like to explain the reasons… Meeting [its conflicting requirements] demands has… led to significant technology problems, development delays, and cost increases… already consumed more than $3 billion to develop and will cost another $12 billion to build – all for a fleet with the capacity to put 4,000 troops ashore. If fully executed, the EFV – which costs far more to operate and maintain than its predecessor – would essentially swallow the entire Marine vehicle budget and most of its total procurement budget for the foreseeable future… recent analysis by the Navy and Marine Corps suggests that the most plausible scenarios requiring power projection from the sea could be handled through a mix of existing air and sea systems employed in new ways along with new vehicles… the mounting cost of acquiring this specialized capability must be judged against other priorities and needs.
Let me be clear. This decision does not call into question the Marine’s amphibious assault mission. We will budget the funds necessary to develop a more affordable and sustainable amphibious tractor to provide the Marines a ship-to-shore capability into the future. The budget will also propose funds to upgrade the existing amphibious vehicle fleet with new engines, electronics, and armaments to ensure that the Marines will be able to conduct ship-to-shore missions until the next generation of systems is brought on line.”
Responding to the announcement, USMC Commandant Gen. James Amos said that:
“Despite the critical amphibious and warfighting capability the EFV represents, the program is simply not affordable given likely Marine Corps procurement budgets. The procurement and operations/maintenance costs of this vehicle are onerous. After examining multiple options to preserve the EFV, I concluded that none of the options meets what we consider reasonable affordability criteria. As a result, I decided to pursue a more affordable vehicle… Shortly, we will issue a special notice to industry requesting information relative to supporting our required amphibious capabilities.”
Finally, the Deteroit Free Press submits a note worth remembering when other program cancellations are discussed:
“Peter Keating, vice president of communications with General Dynamics Land Systems in Sterling Heights, told the Free Press on Thursday morning that the elimination of the EFV would cost Michigan 5,444 direct jobs and 5,281 indirect jobs, according to a economic study the defense contractor had done last year. The Free Press contacted one of the experts who did the study – David Louscher, a former political science professor at the University of Akron, who said those numbers represented so-called “man years” over the course of the 14-year life of the program. In other words, each of those jobs equated to roughly a full time job for one year, or 766 over the course of the program.”
See: Gates’ full speech | a href=”http://www.defense.gov/transcripts/transcript.aspx?transcriptid=4747″>Full Gates speech and Gates/Mullen Q&A transcript | Pentagon release | USMC statement || Defense Update | WIRED Danger Room | || Cato Institute | Lexington Institute || Atlanta Journal Constitution | The Atlantic | Bloomberg | Detroit Free Press | The Hill | NY Times | Politico | Stars and Stripes || Agence France Presse | BBC | Reuters | UK’s Telegraph | China’s Xinhua.
Nov 16/10: No Plan B. WIRED Danger Room says there is no Plan B for the EFV, which means the vehicle had better pass its tests by February 2011:
“After years of delays and cost overruns, Senate appropriators voted in September to put the $24-million-per-tank EFV program out to pasture if it can’t pass its final round of tests. The chairmen of the White House deficit commission marked it for termination in their cost-cutting proposal last week. At this point, the swimming tank is a pinata for defense reformers… But a September study from the Government Accountability Office [DID: sctually. the Congressional Research Service] found few alternatives to the swimming tank (.PDF). Either the Marines could continue to use their decades-old Amphibious Assault Vehicles, or they can modify their planned Marine Personnel Carrier for ship-to-shore operations. (One option for the carrier, GAO writes, is the Italian Supernav 8×8 tank, “a 24-ton vehicle that can carry 13 Marines and their equipment and can travel up to 500 miles nonstop on land and 40 miles on water.”) But the carrier won’t be ready until 2015 as it is.”
EFV may be canceled; GAO & CSBA dubious about the EFV.
Sept 17/10: Inside Defense reports that: “The Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee has provided funding to cancel the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle program in its mark of the fiscal year 2011 defense budget.”
Sept 9/10: Carley Corp. in Orlando, FL wins a $35.8 million cost-plus-fixed-fee, firm-fixed-price contract to produce the EFV training system for USMC accession training, as well as for training fleet and reserve forces. The contract contains options that could boost it to $36 million. The training system will include several sub-systems: training courseware on a Learning Management System, simulators, devices, mockups, and training aids.
Work will be performed in Orlando, FL, and is expected to be complete by September 2015. This contract was a 100% small business set-aside posted in the Navy Electronic Commerce Office, with 3 offers received (M67854-10-C-0036).
Aug 24/10: Testimony. USMC Commandant Gen. James Conway defends the EFV capability, while distancing himself a bit from the current program. Defense Tech quotes him:
“It is not the platform it’s the capability… It’s not necessarily the EFV made by General Dynamics that goes 25 knots, its the capability that we need to be wed to… if that program were canceled outright we would still be looking to come up with that capability.”
He said the new batch of eight EFVs provided by General Dynamics for extensive testing are more reliable than the original prototypes and the Marines hope they’ll show marked improvement. “It has been a beleaguered program,” Conway said today at a Pentagon presser. “We are looking at affordability of the program in the out years… we have to ask ourselves are 573 (EFVs) affordable.”
Aug 19/10: Testing. The SDD-2 version of the EFV is undergoing testing at Camp Pendleton, CA, whose Amphibious Vehicle Test Branch (AVTB) at Camp Del Mar is well suited to the task. The team has also tested the EFV at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center, and DoD facilities in Alaska and Hawaii. The AVTB is staffed by 53 Marines and 25 civilians who are currently conducting testing on 8 EFVs manufactured in Lima, OH.
The USMC release says that to date, more than 400 engineering design improvements have been implemented since AVTB became involved with testing the first EFV prototype in 2003. One is a “whale-tail” exhaust system that disperses heat down and outward from the vehicle, instead of straight upward. USMC.
July 9/10: Defense Tech reports:
“Yesterday at a reporter’s roundtable, House Armed Services Committee chair Rep. Ike Skelton said he expects SecDef Robert Gates and his merry band of program killers in OSD will try to terminate the Marine Corps armored amphibian, the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV). Skelton said he’s pretty agnostic on the EFV and that the HASC would give the Marines time to conduct further tests on the vehicle.”
July 2/10: GAO still dubious. GAO Report #GAO-10-758R’s title understates its tone: “Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV) Program Faces Cost, Schedule and Performance Risks” was provided to Rep. Norman D. Dicks [D-WA], n his role as Chairman of the House Appropriations Defense subcommittee. Some excerpts:
“In 2006 we reviewed the EFV program to determine how it was performing… and reported that the program faced significant risks… In 2006 and 2007, the EFV business case broke down… The program was restructured in June 2007.” [With respect to SDD-2], Reliability growth approach and other performance issues present significant challenges and risks, [the] nature of development, test, and procurement schedules add unnecessary risk… Costs could increase due to concurrency, redesign effort, and final procurement quantity… [and the program’s] history of cost growth, schedule slips and performance failures and the current challenges (including changing threats) raise the question of whether the business case for the EFV program (in terms of cost, schedule, and performance) is still sound.”
The rest of their review is quite detailed and specific. It cites serious ongoing issues with capacity and weight, reliability, and maintainability, and sees the overlapping schedule for testing and early production as especially worthy of concern. See also Eric Palmer of DoD Watch.
May 4/10: Roll-out, Take 2. The USMC rolls out the SDD-2 EFV prototype at a ceremony, and continues to press their case for the vehicle amidst rumors of its cancellation at what turned into a mini pep rally for the vehicle and its supporters. Taking direct aim at some of the concerns raised recently by Defense Secretary Robert Gates that Marines may not need the EFV or that the vehicle could prove too costly, program and Marine Corps officials said the vehicle is exactly what they need to conduct operations from the sea. The EFV is meant to serve as a vehicle bridge for Marines, carrying them from Navy ships through the surf and sand and miles deep into enemy terrain. Program officials extolled the vehicle’s prowess and promise at a ceremony at the National Museum of the Marine Corps here, with the museum’s unique skyline sculpture in the background and a newly minted prototype EFV in the foreground.”>Aviation Week Ares.
May 3/10: Gates’ grumps. US Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates delivers a speech at the Navy League’s annual Sea-Air-Space Convention, in National Harbor, MD. It’s widely seen as casting doubt on the future of the EFV. Excerpts:
“The more relevant gap we risk creating is one between capabilities we are pursuing and those that are actually needed in the real world of tomorrow… Two major examples come to mind. First, what kind of new platform is needed to get large numbers of troops from ship to shore under fire – in other words, the capability provided by the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle. No doubt, it was a real strategic asset during the first Gulf War to have a flotilla of Marines waiting off Kuwait City – forcing Saddam’s army to keep one eye on the Saudi border, and one eye on the coast. But we have to take a hard look at where it would be necessary or sensible to launch another major amphibious landing again – especially as advances in anti-ship systems keep pushing the potential launch point further from shore. On a more basic level, in the 21st century, what kind of amphibious capability do we really need to deal with the most likely scenarios, and then how much?
…And that bring me to the third and final issue: the budget… it is important to remember that, as the wars recede, money will be required to reset the Army and Marine Corps, which have borne the brunt of the conflicts. And there will continue to be long-term – and inviolable – costs associated with taking care of our troops and their families. In other words, I do not foresee any significant increases in top-line of the shipbuilding budget beyond current assumptions. At the end of the day, we have to ask whether the nation can really afford [the current force structure and platforms].”
March 30/10: GAO – what’s next? The US GAO audit office delivers its 8th annual “Defense Acquisitions: Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs report. With respect to the EFV, it cites a 132% jump in the program’s R&D budget from December 2000 – August 2009, a 45% rise in the procurement budget, and a 42.1% drop in planned orders. When you actually crunch those numbers, that means a 249.8% rise in per-vehicle procurement costs. With respect to the program’s structure:
“The EFV’s design will continue to evolve into low- rate initial production… until 2014 as it executes its reliability growth and testing strategy. The program is addressing 180 design actions raised during its critical design review in December 2008 and plans to incorporate many of them into seven new prototypes currently under construction… An operational assessment is scheduled for April 2011. At that time, the program expects to demonstrate on average at least 16 hours of operation between operational mission failures, which will keep the EFV on the reliability path needed to reach its minimum requirement of 43.5 hours. Additional testing and design revisions are scheduled to continue through the fourth lot of low-rate production, and the program will commit to all four low-rate production lots before conducting initial operational test and evaluation to validate the performance and reliability of the EFV.
…the program will introduce new friction-welding processes during low-rate production that are expected to increase the strength of the hull and reduce weight… The Marine Corps recently formalized the IED requirement for the EFV, but did not make it a key performance parameter… If the NBC system were removed, warfighters would still be protected using mission-oriented protective suits, which they currently use on the AAV-7 legacy platform. No decision has been made on this proposal, but it is being held as an option for later in the program.”
Feb 2010: USMC Commandant Gen. James Conway tells the House Armed Services Committee that the EFV performed “about the same” as a 6-wheeled, Category 2 MRAP blast-resistant vehicle in blast tests. A single EFV prototype was subjected to 4 blasts, including 2 that simulated land mines, without its additional armor kit installed.
What the reports don’t say is whether the blasts were set to the side, where the EFV’s protection is strong, or underbody blasts, where the EFV is expected to be weak. Caveat governor. Defense News | Gannett’s Marine Corps Times.
Dec 2/09: EG&G Technical Services, Inc. in Dumfries, VA receives a $5.7 million task order for EFV support services. “Technical support under this effort includes the support services to advance the use of technology to improve system performance and operations, achieve design-to-unit production cost objectives, and to define mature production and manufacturing processes.”
Work will be performed in Woodbridge, VA, and is expected to be complete in December 2010 (M67854-02-A-9011, #0087).
Dec 1/09: EG&G in Dumfries, VA receives a $5.2 million for task order for EFV support services to US Marine Corps Systems Command’s PM Advanced Amphibious Assault (PM AAA). “Technical support under this effort includes the support services to advance the use of technology to improve system performance and operations, achieve design-to-unit production cost objectives, and to define mature production and manufacturing processes.”
Work will be performed in Quantico, VA, and is expected to be complete in December 2009 (M67854-02-A-9011, #0070).
Dec 1/09: CSBA ix-nay. The non-partisan Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) issues a study that recommends cancelling the EFV in favor of an armored vehicle with beter land capabilities and less focus on independent water travel, which would be provided by hovercraft.
It also recommends scaling back MV-22 buys, in favor of a mix of MV-22s and more standard, less expensive helicopters. Aviation Week Ares.
FY 2008 – 2009
SDD program gets a full re-boot; Mine protection issues raised.
May 15/09: The EFV team conducts more EFV tests at the Potomac River training area just off the Quantico, VA. Work includes water maneuvering tests and a gunnery test of it 30mm Mk44 and 7.62mm M240 guns, and is taking place before field testing begins. USMC.
Aug 1/08: General Dynamics Land Systems, operating through its division General Dynamics Amphibious Systems in Woodbridge, VA receives a $766.8 million cost-plus-incentive-fee contract that amounts to a reboot of the program. GDLS will redo the EFV, and produce 8 System Development and Demonstration 2 (SDD-2) Eprototypes. In addition, the contractor will modify existing EFV prototypes, procure preliminary spares and repair parts, order long lead materials for the SDD-2 prototypes, and conduct systems engineering, studies and analysis, logistics support and test support.
Work will be performed in VA (55%), IN (10%), MI (9%), Germany (9%), OH (4%), and various other states (13%), and is expected to be completed in September 2012. This contract was not competitively awarded. The Marine Corps Systems Command in Quantico, VA (M67854-08-C-0003). See also Defense News.
Jan 18/08: General Dynamics Amphibious Systems in Woodbridge, VA received an $12 million modification to previously awarded contract (M67854-05-C-0072) for the advanced procurement of long lead materials for Systems Development and Demonstration 2 phase of the EFV program.
Work will be performed in Michigan (37%), Indiana (20%), Arizona (13%), Maryland (5%), Louisiana (3%), Florida (2%), Mississippi (2%), New Jersey (2%), New York (2%), Ohio (2%), and Germany (12%), and is expected to be completed by November 2009.
Jan 17/08: General Dynamics Amphibious Systems (GDAMS) in Woodbridge, VA received a $19.5 million modification under a previously awarded cost-plus-award-fee contract (M67854-01-C-0001) for the spares material under the systems development and demonstration phase of the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle program.
Work is expected to be completed by September 2008, and will be performed in Woodbridge, Va., (24.654%); Indianapolis, IN (18.727%); Muskegon, MI (11.437%); Salisbury, MD (3.234%); Spokane, WA (2.669%); Anniston, AL (2.625%); Lapeer, MI (2.612%); Tallahassee, FL (2.581%); Broomfield, CO (2.368%); Slidell, LA (2.045%); Houghton, MI (1.994%); Tuscon, AZ (1.772%); Springfield, VA (1.647%); Black Mountain, NC. (1.619%); Minneapolis, MN (1.345%); Duluth, GA (1.241%); San Diego, CA (1.223%); Tempe, AZ (1.123%); Plainview, NY (1.12%); Ottawa, Canada (1.875%); Freidrichshafen, Germany (0.988%); Calgary, Canada (0.144%); and several other locations within the United States, each with %ages lower than 1% (totaling 10.957%). The contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico, Va., is the contracting activity.
Jan 9/08: The US House Armed Services Committee’s Seapower and Expeditionary Forces subcommittee is casting a skeptical bipartisan eye on the EFV program. Congressman Roscoe Bartlett [R-MD, ranking subcommittee minority member] spoke to Inside the Navy after speaking at a conference in Arlington, VA. According to information released by his office, he and subcommittee chair Gene Taylor [D-MS] have ‘a lot of serious questions’ about the idea for additional applique armor to help remedy the EFV’s poor resistance to mines. The idea itself was spawned in reaction to the subcommittee’s pointed questions re: the EFV and its lack of resistance to IED land mines. Congressman Bartlett:
“…they would get a really thin, strong Marine who could scoot underneath that thing, because there’s only about 18 inches of ground clearance, and he would bolt on an applique of some special aluminum which would now protect them… the enemy has to be very cooperative and not shoot them while they’re affixing the armor applique, and that the Marines have to find hard terrain free of mines to do this re-jiggering [the USMC] told us that they would know that the beach wasn’t mined. I said, ‘If you can know the beach was not mined, how come our people in Iraq can’t figure out whether the road is mined or not’?”
Oct 22/07: A $10 million contract modification to previously awarded contract M67854-01-C-0001 to develop an alternative drivetrain subsystem preliminary design for the continuation of Systems Development and Demonstration phase of the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle program. Work will be performed in Augsburg, Germany (81%), Friedrichshafen, Germany (1%) and Woodbridge, VA (18%) and is expected to be complete by April 2008.
Program problems push the government toward competing the EFV going-forward; Revised costs & budgets as price climbs.
Aug 22/07: The Pentagon releases its Selected Acquisition Reports for the June 2007 reporting period, and the EFV program is listed:
“The SAR was submitted to report schedules slips of approximately two years since the December 2006 SAR. In February 2007, the program experienced a critical Nunn-McCurdy unit cost breach due primarily to system reliability challenges and a quantity reduction. The department certified a revised program to Congress in June 2007. Program costs increased $4,069.4 million (+34.2 percent) from $11,902.7 million to $15,972.1 million.”
DID’s follow-on article “Costing the Marines’ EFV” explains what’s going on, delving into current and past program cost growth, why it happened, and what it means for the price per vehicle. The short answer is that each EFV will cost $16-21 million.
$21 million per?!?
Aug 15/07: A $15.5 million modification to previously awarded contract (M67854-01-C-0001) for System Integration Laboratory Hardware, during the SDD phase of the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle program. Work will be performed in Woodbridge, VA (45%); Tallahassee, FL (30%); Lima, OH (20%); and Scranton, PA (5%). Work is expected to be complete by September 2008.
Aug 1/07: In reply to the July 12/07 Jane’s article, the EFV program office had this to say to DID:
“We plan to compete future contracts for certain EFV program efforts, where feasible, to increase performance or reduce program costs. However, General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) has been the sole EFV vehicle designer and developer since 1996 and as a result, the main design development and production efforts are planned as sole source to GDLS because no other firm can perform the requirements of development and production without substantial duplication of cost and additional, unacceptable delays to the EFV program.
GDLS has taken positive action to demonstrate their commitment to the EFV program and improve the probability of success in meeting EFV program requirements. GDLS implemented a major reorganization in early 2007 to transfer technical expertise to the EFV program and to align Director-level technical positions with their parent company, GDLS in Sterling Heights, MI.
In Jan 07, GDLS transferred their best Systems Engineer from GDLS to Woodbridge, VA to be the Director of Systems Engineering for the EFV program. In addition, they created a Director of Programs position and appointed a senior GDLS employee with proven success on numerous Defense programs to the position. GD then aligned key EFV positions with their corporate organization to provide corporate expertise and continuity across Defense programs. This included instituting a direct reporting relationship for the EFV SE Director to the GDLS Senior Director for SE and for the EFV Technical Director to the GDLS Senior Vice-President for Engineering Design & Development (ED&D).”
July 31/07: A $6.2 million modification to previously awarded contract (M67854-01-C-0001). It covers sustaining program management, as well as technical and engineering support for the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV) Drive train components, during the extended Systems Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase of the EFV program. Work will be performed in Indianapolis, IN and work is expected to be completed by September 2008.
July 17/07: A $10.6 million modification to previously awarded contract (M67854-01-C-0001) for the sustaining equipment manufacturing, technical, and engineering efforts in support of the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV) engine, during the extended Systems Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase of the of the EFV program.
Work will be performed in Woodbridge, VA (12%) and Friedrichshafen, Germany (88%) and is expected to be complete by September 2008.
July 12/07: Jane’s Defence Weekly reports that the USMC will consider alternative designs for the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV) and plans to compete out future components of the $2.3 billion EFV contract currently solely held by General Dynamics. “The news follows continued scrutiny of the programme by the US Congress, which has sharply questioned the EFV’s flat-bottomed design, cost over-runs and production problems.”
Rep. Gene Taylor [D-MS], Chair of the House Armed Services Seapower & Expeditionary Forces subcommittee, is reportedly seeking legal opinions re: ownership of the vehicle design, in order to determine whether the EFV project could be turned over to another firm if Congress’ patience snaps.
June 8/07: A $5.7 million modification to previously awarded contract M67854-01-C-0001 for the redesign of the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, using an alternate architecture in place of Spraycool technology, during the Systems Development and Demonstration phase. SprayCool will be kept for the more computing-intensive EFV-C command variant, but is being designed out of the infantry carrier vehicle in favor of a more modular architecture. This is bad news for SprayCool Corp., who touted their liquid cooling system for electronics in a success story release:
“In 2000, the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV), being developed at that time as the Advanced Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAAV), was experiencing significant difficulties in their command and control electronics suite due to overheating. Moreover, the program office realized that this problem would only get worse as their C4I roadmap called for more electronics, increasing the number of software programs, and numerous technology insertions of faster processors to transfer the required data.
By chance the program manager for the Command Variant of the EFV saw a SprayCool Technology demonstration and consulted with SprayCool. Using a Small Business Innovative Research contract and funding from DARPA, SprayCool built a prototype multi-processor unit, called the Command and Control Server (CCS). This prototype solved the overheating conditions and has evolved into the heart of the EFV’s electronic suite where it links ten operating stations with information from the Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System, Command and Control Operations (C2PC for situational awareness), Intelligence Operations System, and other C4I SR (command, control, communications, and computers intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) systems.
In developing the Multi-Processor Unit (MPU) for the Marine Corps, SprayCool won the Department of Defense Value Engineering Award for 2003 by enabling Commercial Off the Shelf (COTS) technology insertions, saving the Marines over $350 million dollars over a thirty year life span.”
Work on finding a replacement cooling approach will be performed in Woodbridge, VA (34.2%), Spokane, WA (20.7%), Colorado Springs, CO (14.6%), Tallahassee, FL (11.5%), Calgary, Canada (9.5percent), Ottawa, Canada (4.2%), Los Angeles, CA (2.1%), Salisbury, MD (2.0%) and Sterling Heights, MI (1.2%) and is expected to be complete by September 2008. Contract funds in the amount of $3.3 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.
May 2/07: House Appropriation Committee chair Henry Waxman submits formal requests to Secretary of Defense Gates and to General Dynamics Land Systems President David K. Heebner. He requests a long list of reports, assessments, and other documentation related to the EFV, by May 18/07, while citing several reports the program’s ongoing difficulties. House Appropriations Committee | Full Letter to DoD [PDF] | Full letter to General Dynamics Land Systems [PDF].
April 30/07: A $43.8 million contract modification to previously awarded contract (M67854-01-C-0001) for spares and material for the continuation of Systems Development and Demonstration phase of the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV) program.
Work will be performed in Germany (38.61%); Michigan (13.38%); Indiana (7.56%); Virginia (6.04%); Colorado (5.37%); Florida (4.61%); California (4.2%); Canada (4.26%); Maryland (3.94%); Washington (3.72%); Arizona (2.52%); North Carolina (2.49%); Louisiana (2.21%); New York (0.27%); South Carolina (0.24%); Massachusetts (0.20%); Missouri (0.19%); Minnesota (0.16%); and Pennsylvania (0.02%); and is expected to be complete by September 2007.
March 19/07: A $144 million modification to previously awarded cost-plus-award-fee contract (M67854-01-C-0001) on Mar. 16, 2007, for design for reliability efforts for the continuation of Systems Development and Demonstration phase of the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle program. In other words, this money will be used to address the reliability issues covered in “The US Marines’ EFV Program: Current State Report, November 2006“,” in order to get the EFV to a point where it’s ready for low-rate production.
Work will be performed in Woodbridge, VA (40%), Indianapolis, Ind., (24%), Sterling Heights, MI (10%), Friedrichshafen, Germany, (10%), and various other states (16%), and is expected to be complete by September 2008.
FY 2006 and Earlier
Initial EFV SDD contract, and add-ons.
May 25/06: An $18.8 million cost-reimbursable modification under a previously awarded cost-plus-award-fee contract (M67854-01-C-0001) for the continuation of Systems Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase of the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV) program. Work will be performed in Woodbridge, VA (50%); Aberdeen, MD (25%); and Camp Pendleton, CA (25%).
April 3/06: A $44.4 million cost-reimbursable addition modification under previously awarded contract (M67854-01-C-0001) for the continuation of Systems Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase of the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV) program. GDAMS will provide all required materials, services, personnel and facilities to complete the design and development of the EFV, perform studies and analyses, manufacture and test all SDD prototypes, prepare for production, initiate logistics support of the EFV, and successfully complete the SDD phase.
Work will be performed in Woodbridge, VA (38%); Camp Pendleton, CA (22%); Sterling Heights, MI (21%); Aberdeen, MD (9%), and undetermined location(s) (10%), and is expected to be complete by September 2009.
July 22/05: A $42.9 million cost-reimbursable addition to a previously awarded contract (N67854-01-C-0001) to extend the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle’s systems development and demonstration (SDD) phase. Full-up system live fire testing will be included. General Dynamics will provide all required materials, services, personnel and facilities to complete the design and development of the EFV, perform studies and analyses, manufacture and test all SDD prototypes, prepare for production, initiate logistics support of the EFV, and successfully complete the SDD phase.
Work will be performed in Virginia (21.22%); Indiana (12.47%); Germany (10.47%); Michigan (8.87%); North Carolina (6.81%); California (5.31%); Ohio (5.21%); Washington (5.20%); Maryland (4.38%); Minnesota (4.38%); Colorado (2.95%); Canada (2.53%); Illinois (2.37%); Arizona (1.07%); New York (0.87%); Alabama (0.54%); Florida (0.48%); Georgia (0.14%); Texas (0.13%); and undetermined (4.61%). Work is expected to be completed by September 2009.
Nov 1/04: A $136 million cost-reimbursable addition modification under previously awarded contract M67854-01-C-0001 for the continuation of system development and demonstration (SDD) phase of the expeditionary fighting vehicle (EFV) program. GDAMS will provide all required materials, services, personnel and facilities to complete the design and development of the EFV, perform studies and analyses, manufacture and test all SDD prototypes, prepare for production, initiate logistics support of the EFV, and successfully complete the SDD phase.
This contract was not competitively procured. Work will be performed in Woodbridge, VA (59.02%); Indianapolis, IN (10.43%); Lima, OH (1.94%); Liberty Lake, WA (1.64%); Sterling Heights, MI (1.46%); Scranton, PA (1.38%); Linthicum, MD (1.20%); Tempe, AZ (1.18%); Arlington, VA (0.78%); Pittsfield, MA (0.69%); San Diego, CA (0.55%); Tallahassee, FL (0.53%); Frederick, MD (0.43%); El Centro, CA (0.37%); Muskegon, MI (0.02%);and Freidrichshafen, Germany (15.61%); Ottawa, Canada (1.82%); and Calgary, Canada (0.95%). Work is expected to be complete by September 2008.
Feb 10/03: $15.9 million under a previously awarded cost-reimbursable contract (M67854-01-C-0001), exercising an option for the Live Fire Test Vehicle and initial spares for the Advanced Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAAV).
Work will be performed in Woodbridge, Va. (30.9%); Indianapolis, Ind. (6.4%); Freidrichshafen, Germany (5.8%); Muskegon, Mich. (4.6%); Tempe, Ariz. (4.6%); Tallahassee, Fla. (4.1%); Scranton, Pa. (4.1%); Lima, Ohio (3.1%); Slidell, La. (2.2%); Lapeer, Mich. (2.2%); Boulder, Colo. (1.9%); Hebron, Ohio (1.9%); McKinney, Texas (1.9%); Boca Raton, Fla. (1.4%); Ottawa, Canada (1.3%); Jacksonville, Mich. (1.3%); Imperial Valley, Calif. (1.2%); East Aurora, N.Y. (1.1%); Tuscon, Ariz. (0.9%); Frederick, Md. (0.8%); Wayne, N.J. (0.8%); Calgary, Canada, (0.8%); Anniston, Ala. (0.7%); Clarkston, Wash. (0.6%); San Diego, Calif. (0.4%); Westbury, N.Y. (0.4%); Marlboro, Md. (0.2%); Sterling Heights, Mich. (0.1%); and all other states (14.3%). Work is expected to be completed by June 2005.
July 3/01: A $712 million cost-reimbursable contract for the systems development and demonstration (SDD) (formerly engineering and manufacturing development) phase of the Advanced Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAAV) as part of the SDD phase. Under this procurement, two different types of vehicles will be developed and demonstrated, the Personnel variant (AAAV (P)) and the Command and Control variant (AAAV (C )). The AAAV is a replacement system for the current AAV7A1 that was fielded in 1972, underwent a major service life extension program and product improvement program from 1983 to 1993 and will be over 30 years old when the AAAV is fielded.
Work will be performed in Woodbridge, Va. (57.4%); Freidrichshafen, Germany (5.1%); Indianapolis, Ind. (5.1%); Tallahassee, Fla. (3.1%); Calgary, Canada (2.2%); Tempe, Ariz. (2.0%); Sterling Heights, Mich. (1.9%); Scranton, Pa. (1.9%); Muskegon, Mich. (1.8%); Lima, Ohio (1.7%); Imperial Valley, Calif. (1.5%); Clarkston, Wash. (1.4%); Boulder, Colo. (1.0%); Frederick, Md. (0.7%); Anniston, Ala. (0.5%); Upper Marlboro, Md. (0.5%); Arlington, Va. (0.5%); Lapeer, Mich. (0.5%); Reston, Va. (0.5%); Springfield, Va. (0.5%); East Aurora, N.Y. (0.4%); Ottawa, Canada (0.4%); McKinney, Texas (0.4%); Hebron, Ohio (0.4%); Tucson, Ariz. (0.2%); San Diego, Calif. (0.3%); Acton, Mass. (0.3%); Ottawa, Canada (0.2%); Boca Raton, Fla. (0.2%); Bettendorf, Iowa (0.2%); Chicago, Ill. (0.2%); Israel (0.2%); Wayne, N.J. (0.2%); and all other states (6.4%) and is expected to be completed in September 2006. This contract was not competitively procured (M67854-01-C-0001).
April 5/01: General Dynamics Land Systems, Woodbridge, VA, under their subsidiary General Dynamics Amphibious Systems, is being awarded a $6 million modification to previously awarded contract (M67854-01-C-0001) for long-lead material for the Advanced Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAAV) as part of the systems development and demonstration phase. The work will be performed in Woodbridge, Va. (40%), Lima, Ohio (20%), Tallahassee, Fla. (15%), Muskegon, Mich. (10%), Scranton, Pa. (10%), and Imperial Valley, Calif. (5%) and is expected to be completed by June 2001 (M67854-01-C-0001).
fn1. Remote Weapons Systems turrets like the RCWS-30 equipping the Czech Army’s river-amphibious Pandur II APC fleet were considered at the program’s outset, but they had not developed to their present capability levels. In addition, Col. Brogan noted that Remote Weapons Systems made crew nausea issues worse during amphibious testing. Money has not been allocated for current studies, the design is well advanced, and the EFV office has no plans to recommend reconsideration.
fn2. The GAO estimates $12.3 million per vehicle. See GAO report item in the “Additional Readings & Sources” section for deeper background.
Appendix A: Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle – The Program
The US Marines originally hoped to replace 1,322 AAV7s with 1,013 EFVs: 935 EFV-P Personnel Variants, and 78 EFV-C Command Variants. Initial Operating Capability (IOC) was supposed to happen in 2010, and was defined as a platoon of 13 EFV-P and 1 EFV-C vehicle, ready for Marine Expeditionary Unit deployment workups, including the associated support and sustainment package. Plus a 2nd EFV platoon delivered and in New Equipment Training. Plus a 3rd EFV platoon in production. Full Rate Production was scheduled for the FY 2011-2020 period. Full Operational Capability (FOC) was scheduled for FY 2020.
It eventually became clear that 2010 wouldn’t even see the end of testing, and IOC was a long way away at FY 2017 or so, if everything went well. Even Low-Rate Initial Production wasn’t expected until FY 2013 – assuming that testing didn’t reveal additional problems, and the program survived that long. Which it did not.
The EFV nevertheless remained the Corps’ top land combat priority, right up until its cancellation by the Marine Corps – with a very hard push from the Pentagon. EFV budgets in recent years have included:
FY 2005: $291.7 million ($239.2M R&D, $52.5M procurement)
FY 2006: 272.7 million ($243.9M R&D, $28.8M procurement)
FY 2007: $348.7 million (all shifted to RDT&E following testing issues and cuts)
FY 2008 req.: $288.2M RDTE (Research, Development, Testing, & Evaluation)
FY 2009: $256.0M RDT&E
FY 2010: $292.2M RDT&E
FY 2011 request: $242.8M RDT&E, but the program was shut down.
The danger signs began when the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review resulted in a significant cut to the USMC’s EFV plans, as the service considered their total package of ground vehicles, and the schedule has foundered in the wake of serious performance and reliability problems. In contrast, blast-resistant wheeled patrol vehicles appears to have made large gains within the envisioned force mix, per the MRAP program etc.
Then, there were the EFV’s costs.
In 2000, the EFV program was expected to cost about $7.3 billion, including $1.6 billion for research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E). By 2006, that figure had risen to $12.5 billion, including $2.5 billion for RDT&E. At 1,013 EFVs, the final cost per vehicle had grown to $10.1 million – but even this figure was true if, and only if, all planned vehicles were bought. By August 2009, the program’s estimated cost was $14.29 billion, including $3.74 billion in RDT&E; and this 14 billion dollar figure was so despite a 42.1% cut in the expected order, to just 593 EFVs. Overall, the cost per vehicle has risen almost 250% from its December 2000 baseline.
In a 2006 discussion, the program office estimated that a cutback to 573 vehicles could increase costs by up to $2 million per vehicle, to $12-13 million. Other reports have placed the cost as high as $17 million average.
Why is this? Much of it is a factor of the vehicle’s requirements. A 20 knot plus water speed, with that much carrying capacity, plus even a questionable level of protection on land, is a contradictory set of imperatives that creates a very expensive vehicle. Some of the cost jump a product of the vehicle’s rising complexity, as it gets redesigned. Some of it is also self-inflicted, and stems from cuts in the program.
Buying fewer vehicles means that the R&D is paid for and vehicles are bought earlier in the production learning curve, when the cost higher. If fewer vehicles are also bought over the same time frame, then fixed costs per vehicle increase for that reason as well. The EFV program office’s preliminary analysis showed that a reduction to 800 vehicles would raise the final average cost per vehicle by at least $1 million.
Of course, costs that rise during the R&D/SDD phase tend to lead to more production reductions, and the whole scenario can spiral very quickly. In an attempt to avoid that spiral, the EFV Program Office tried a number of improved project management techniques and procurement innovations. It was hoped that these efforts would help keep the program on its current schedule, and they did help. What they can never do, is fix a fundamental requirements set problem if one exists, or completely remove the unexpected surprises from a difficult technical journey.
In the end, however, the biggest killer was issues with EFV performance, as detailed in test results and GAO reports.
Full up EFV System Level Lethality testing began with an Operational Assessment between January-September 2006. Milestone C approval was expected to be followed by low-rate initial production (LRIP) vehicles in FY 2007 – 2008 for use during Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E). Unfortunately, the assessment revealed some serious issues with performance, capacity, and reliability.
LRIP production was delayed while the program was restructured, and the problems were not confined to just one sub-system, or just a few. In the end, the vehicle kept its basic outline, but got a major makeover that is still in progress.
The first step was a Design For Reliability phase, followed by what is in effect a do-over of the Systems Design & Development phase (SDD-2). Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) was delayed from 2008 until FY 2013 or so. Initial Operational Capability, meanwhile, was pushed from the original 2010 to 2016-2017 at the earliest.
As risky as that was, the US GAO cited an additional risk of overlap. EFV testing wasn’t supposed to be done until the end of FY 2014, but LRIP would start before that’s done. With up to 96 vehicles planned under the 4 LRIP production lots, problems discovered in late testing could become very expensive retrofits very quickly.
This schedule, and the growing risk of EFV program cancellation,made it clear that further upgrades and/or life-extension programs may be required for the AAV7 Amtracs fleet, in order to keep the heavily-used vehicles available to the Marines until replacements do arrive. During that interim, any serious problems in the Amtracs fleet could leave the US Marines in a difficult position indeed.
Appendix B: Additional Readings & Sources
- Marine Corps EFV Program Site. See their official program timeline. DID also interviewed EFV program personnel.
- Army Teechnology – Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV) – Advanced Amphibious Assault Vehicle, USA
- GlobalSecurity.org – Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV) Advanced Amphibious Assault Vehicle
- DID (Oct 24/07) – Costing the Marines’ EFV. With a bit of help from the Program Office.
- US Congressional Research Service (latest update Sept 17/10) – The Marines Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV): Background and Issues for Congress
- US Congressional GAO (#GAO-10-758R, July 2/10) – Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV) Program Faces Cost, Schedule and Performance Risks. Quite a lot of them, says the report.
- US DoD (Aug 22/07) – Department of Defense Releases Selected Acquisition Reports. For the June 2007 reporting period. EFV changes require a report in this SAR.
- US DoD (April 9/07) – SAR Program Acquisition Cost Summary As Of Date: December 31, 2006 [PDF format] Reports that acquisition costs have increased by nearly $4 billion, from $8.7 billion in December 2000 to $11.9 billion in December 2006.
- US GAO (#GAO-06-349, May 1/06) – Defense Acquisitions: The Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle Encountered Difficulties in Design Demonstration and Faces Future Risks. The report calculates $12.3 million as the EFV’s price per vehicle, and also lists a number of program risks. Col. Brogan takes especial exception to the 3rd risk mentioned, as it comes from following Pentagon acquisition policy. The GAO critized the EFV for not meeting all key performance parameters before low-rate production, but Pentagon procurement regulations state that they must be met only at IOTE(Initial Operational Test and Evaluation), just before full-rate production. Reliability requirements require time to accumulate data, and interoperability/net-ready requirements with not be met until IOTE around 2010, in order to avoid “freezing in” an obsolete system or spec.
- U.S. Defense Technical Information Center, Navy Program elements for 2005 (0603611M) – EXHIBIT R-2a, RDT&E Project Justification re: EFV.
- James Hasik (Jan 22/14) – Rethinking the problem of the next amphibious assault vehicle—an update
- Aviation Week Ares (March 3/11) – Marine Amphib Upgrades Coming Fast and Furious. Describes some options in the wake of the EFV’s cancellation.
- DoD Buzz (Nov 24/10) – Cancel Marines’ EFV Already: Analysts
- USMC (March 12/09) – Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle – Failure not an option. By Lt. Gen. George J. Flynn, Deputy Commandant for Combat Development and Integration, Marine Corps Base Quantico.
- Information Dissemination (March 19/09) – To EFV or not to EFV, That is not the Question
- USNI Proceedings magazine (November 2008) – A Poster Child for Next-War-Itis
- Defense News (March 14/07) – US. Marine EFV Delivery Delayed to 2015 and Costs Double
- Washington Post (Feb. 7/07) – Problems Stall Pentagon’s New Fighting Vehicle. Discusses some of the reliability issues: “The Marine Corps has tried to deal with some of its development problems by lowering its expectations for the vehicle. The service originally wanted a craft that could operate 70 hours between major breakdowns, but it cut that target to 43.5 hours after tests revealed the vehicles were struggling to meet the higher goal. But even the lower targets have been hard to hit. Marine Corps officials were distressed to discover that the prototypes encountered an “operational mission failure” on average every 4.5 hours in tests last year. There were 645 failures within the subsystems, overwhelming the three-man maintenance crew, according to a report by the service’s testing agency. “It’s a very complex vehicle; when it breaks, it’s difficult to repair,” said Col. Michael Bohn, director of the Marine Corps testing agency.”
- DID (Nov 7/06) – The US Marines’ EFV Program: Current State Report, November 2006. Describes the OpEval issues with the EFV in more detail, and discusses changes in the number of EFVs planned, based on interviews with the program office.
- DID (April 6/06) – $44.4M more to Complete EFV Amphibious Vehicle’s SDD Phase.
- Philadelphia Inquirer (Aug 4/05) – Vulnerable: Vehicle lacks armor in undercarriage. They’re talking about the Amtracs, and note the issues this has presented in Iraq.
- DID (May 25/05) – New Embedded Computing Architecture Addresses Obsolescence. If you plan to keep the EFVs around for 30 years, the computing architecture inside them will need to keep up. This proposed approach created some difficulties, however, as our update explains.
- DC Military (Jan. 9/04) – Latest Version of Marine Corps’ Amphibious Fighting Vehicle Goes Further, Faster
- U.S. Navy League, Sea Power Magazine (Nov. 2003) – EFV Brings Improved Range, Lethality to Marines
- D-N-I (July 11/01) – Advanced Amphibious Assault Vehicle: Cold-War Dinosaur or Techno Revolution for the 21st Century? In large part, a criticism of the EFV that sees a flawed concept, and its travails as the inevitable result of its basic performance requirements.
- Marine Corps University Command and Staff College (1995) – Can We Afford the AAAV? by Major M. M. Brogan, United States Marine Corps.
- Mofet Etzion – Heavy Vehicle Armor. Their LIBA ceramic composite vehicle armor mostly reaches customers through General Dynamics Land Systems, who uses variants of it in the Stryker and Pandur vehicles as well as the EFV. It is also available for BAE Systems’ M113, among others.
- US MARCORSYSCOM – Marine Personnel Carrier
- Globalsecurity.org – AAV7A1 Assault Amphibian Vehicle (AAV RAM/RS). Describes the previous modernization program.
- DID FOCUS Article – Double-Jointed & Popular: The Bv Family of Infantry Support Vehicles. Covers the Bv206 and BvS-10 family of vehicles, which are used by a number of forces worldwide and serve as the British and Dutch Marines’ primary amphibious armored vehicles. These vehicles are not competitors to the EFV; rather, they represent a different philosophy.